Summary: A vision-casting 4 part series on our core values as a church. This sermon is about growing disciples through small groups.
What Are We Made Of?
The DNA of Millville Avenue
Part 3: Inward
Icebreaker: The following are actual responses from comment cards given to the staff members at Bridger Wilderness Area in 1996:
-Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
-Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.
-Please pave the trails…Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can -get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.
-The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
-A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call…
-Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
-A McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.
-Too many rocks in the mountains.
Mike Neifert, Light and Life (February 1997), p. 27
Intro: These comments and complaints indicate that the people who made them do not really understand what it means to stay in a "wilderness area." They were looking for something convenient and comfortable, but not truly a wilderness experience. In a similar way, many people today do not understand what it means to be a genuine Christian. There are multitudes that often follow Jesus or claim to be a Christian but they do so on their terms and not his. They do not truly comprehend the biblical definition of discipleship.
-Because of this ignorance there are many who consider themselves to be followers of Jesus who are not, even though in many ways they do look like followers of Jesus. They go to church, have a profession of faith, read their Bibles, pray, even give in the offering, but they are not the real deal or at least are not living and thinking like the real deal. Jesus confronts this problem in our text today. He makes very, very clear what it means to be a Christian, and therefore there is no reason for anybody to be ignorant or self deceived.
-Today is part 3 of our series, “What Are We Made Of?” And I’ve titled today’s message, “Inward,” because today we’re going to focus on the 2nd part of our mission as a church. Let’s review the full statement again:
The mission of the Millville Avenue Church of God is to help people know God, to grow people into fully devoted disciples of Jesus, and to equip people to go impact their world for Christ.
-Let’s read that out loud together. [Read]. Today’s focus is going to be that 2nd statement, “To grow people into fully devoted disciples of Jesus.” I want you to underline the words, “fully devoted disciple.”
-What does it mean to be a fully devoted disciple of Jesus? Well, there are few things that mark the life of a disciple. As we go through these give marks, I want you to take a good, hard look at your life and ask yourself, “Is this true of me?”
The Marks of a True Disciple
1. A true disciple puts Jesus first in all things. (Mark 8:34-38)
The disciple of Christ needs to be set apart from the world. Our focus should be on our Lord and pleasing Him in every area of our lives. We must put off self-centeredness and put on Christ-centeredness.
Scripture: Mark 8:34-38
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
2. A true disciple follows Jesus’ teachings in all areas of life. (John 8:31-32)
-We must be obedient children and doers of the Word. Obedience is the supreme test of faith in God (1 Samuel 28:18), and Jesus is the perfect example of obedience as He lived a life on earth of complete obedience to the Father even to the point of death (Philippians 3:6-8).
Scripture: John 8:31-32
“Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
3. A true disciple bears fruit. (John 15:5-8)
-Our job is not producing fruit. Our job is to be like Jesus, and if we do, the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit. The fruit is the result of our obedience. As we become more obedient to the Lord and learn to walk in His ways, our lives will change. The biggest change will take place in our hearts, and the overflow of this will be new conduct (thoughts, words and actions) representative of that change. The change we seek is done from the inside out, through the power of the Holy Spirit. It isn’t something we can conjure up on our own.